NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — From the Hamptons to the Jersey shore, officials and business owners alike want you to know the beaches are open this Labor Day weekend.
“Get the hell back on the beach, would you?” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday at Point Pleasant Beach.
Those words were a far cry from a week ago when the Christie told everyone to “get the hell off the beach” as Hurricane Irene was making its way up the East Coast.
“New Jersey has done a great job recovering from this storm,” Christie said on the boardwalk.
Most of the Jersey shore made it through Irene without permanent damage, but parts of Belmar’s beachfront did sustain flood damage and beach erosion and some of Spring Lake’s boardwalk was also torn up in the storm.
Nevertheless, Spring Lake mayor Jennifer Naughton said “over a mile and a half of our beach is open and debris free.”
“I’m heeding my own advice,” Christie said Friday. “I’m starting my weekend at the shore as well.”
As an incentive to get people to the beaches, many shore towns are offering free parking for the weekend.
While flooded counties in northern New Jersey have been approved for federal aid, shore counties like Monmouth, Ocean, Cape May and Atlantic aren’t yet eligible.
Christie said the could change after damage assessments are completed.
In the Hamptons, businesses are also hoping for a big weekend turnout.
Shopkeeper Kathy Coglin says she’s worried that people who left ahead of Irene last weekend won’t return for this last summer weekend.
“A lot of concern only because we’ve noticed the traffic during the week was very slow, we know a lot of ocean front homes were evacuated and we’re really not sure if people are coming back,” said Coglin.
Mark Zucarro, who owns Southampton’s Fly Point Surf shop, says he needs a good weekend to make up for last weekend’s washout.
“This money needs to last me through January, February, March or it could be real bad out here,” he said. “I need a monster weekend.”
Many store owners say the business during holiday weekends help most shops make it through the rest of the year.
Beachgoers are also expected to flock to Jones Beach this weekend. Sand pounded the boardwalk during Irene but officials say clean up efforts have gone a long way.
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“There was wood debris that was washed up and that had to be cleaned up and we had beach front flooding,” said director Susan Guiliano. “A lot of the things were repaired already, we have a great crew here.”
Beachgoers may also see a lot of generators outside of restaurants and store fronts at Jones Beach because power is still out.
Some New Yorkers are using their holiday weekend to help clean up after Tropical Storm Irene battered the beaches in Queens.
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There’s currently more sand on benches and handball courts than on the Rockaway beaches, according to Jeremy Davis, corporate service manager for New York Cares.
“The estimates we have said that we lost anywhere from five to six feet of sand as well as sustaining some pretty serious damage to the boardwalk,” said Davis.
Roughly 30 volunteers will shovel sand, sweep up the debris and mud and clear the beach of trash west of 100th Street so that beachgoers can enjoy the last few days of summer.
If you’d like to help or for more information, visit www.nycares.org.
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